There are more than 70 million dogs in the United States. While the vast majority are friendly, any dog can bite. Each year, more than four million Americans are bitten by dogs – and about one in five requires medical attention. Children and seniors are most likely to be bitten, and to require medical attention.

Each year in May, the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) sponsors National Dog Bite Prevention Week. In 2016, this event takes place May 15-21. Information and education is crucial in reducing this public health threat.

As a dog owner, it’s important for you to properly train and socialize your pet to reduce the chance of bites.

Parents should also educate their children about how – or if – they should approach a dog. Some easy tips that you can use to help kids understand the importance of respecting dogs and ways to avoid bites:

  • Avoid unknown dogs
  • When an owner is with their dog, always ask for permission to pet their dog
  • Confidently, quietly walk away if you’re confronted by an aggressive dog
  • If a dog goes to bed or to their crate, don’t bother them
  • Never tease a dog or try to pull its ears or tail

For more information about preventing dog bites, visit www.avma.org/DogBitePrevention.